Missouri's Bicentennial Inauguration & Chat with the Representatives
2021 marks the 200th year of statehood for Missouri, which was represented and celebrated on January 11th at the Governor's Bicentennial Inauguration honoring Missouri's 57th Governor Michael L. Parson. I was lucky enough to attend through my Politically Active group and had a chance to meet and quickly chat with a few of the Representatives.
As a self-considered left-leaning independent, I struggle immensely with many of the choices and policies passed in my heavily conservative state. Therefore, when I did a bit of research prior to heading out to the capital, I had some hard-hitting questions and was seeking answers. However, I was quite surprised at the open dialogue I was able to have that truly centered more on potential solutions rather than a closed-door approach.
The Inauguration itself was overall a cold but pleasant event. I was surprised that there was an optional masking policy and that there was no separation between seating to provide adequate social distancing. While I was happily wearing a mask the entire time, I am interested to see if COVID rears its ugly head after these loose safety restrictions.
While the Inauguration itself was the main focus, I truly enjoyed speaking to the representatives even more. I find that many don't realize the differences between federal and state government, and it truly is the state government that can impact your life in fundamental ways.
Republican Alex Riley: Pleasantly Surprised
Of all the people we spoke to, I was convinced that I would not like Alex Riley in any way through my research alone. However, I was shocked at just how wrong I was, and if I'm honest, he was my favorite.
While Riley is the epitome of conservative beliefs, he was extremely open to hearing views and having an open and honest conversation.
I first asked him his thoughts on a Cap-and-Trade system. As agriculture is a key policy focus for him, if and how does he plan to help move Missouri Farmers into a more climate-friendly direction while maintaining their livelihood. This spun off to discuss just what a cap-and-trade system entailed and quickly went into clean energy types that could be used for Missouri.
We both agreed that nuclear energy is worth looking into. At the end of the day, each state will need to find what best works for them and their own natural resources to create a collection of green energy sources that best fit the state's natural landscape.
We next turned to the topic of political socialization and engagement and how there is an immense opportunity to educate the public on state and local politics. I believe that there is a major opportunity in our schooling system to include local and state political education into our school systems. I will be the first to admit that I had little to no information on the political system as a whole prior to taking my college political science class. I find that it is no wonder we struggle to get individuals involved when they don't understand.
Republican Hannah Kelly: A Continuing Legacy
We had a brief encounter with Representative Hannah Kelly, who was a lovely woman. She came from a long line of state politicians, and her Grandfather, who once held her very seat, inspired her to run.
Although we did not have long to meet, she expressed her love for her Christian religion and shared that her motivations centered around her drive to help others.
I was impressed that while she has been elected since 2017, she still is an active real-estate agent and continues to own and run her own brokerage.
Democratic Minority Leader Crystal Quade & Democrat Betsy Fogle: A Dynamic Duo
I was so pleased to meet the Democratic Minority Leader Crystal Quade alongside Democrat Betsy Fogle! Not only are these both incredible women, but I also find it very endearing to see them fighting for what they believe in when all odds are stacked against them in Missouri's overwhelming conservative environment.
While we only had a moment with Quade, I was able to sneak in a question addressed to both representatives, which centered around what advice they would give to future democrats who may be interested in running for an elected position.
Both Quade and Fogle agreed that Democrats, especially in Missouri, may need to redefine what it means to win. While yes, winning an election is always the goal, it is also imperative to remember that changing the election landscape by even a few points is a long-term winning strategy.
She reflected upon what Georgia has accomplished over the past decade by slowly moving the needle and looking at what has happened this year because of the groundwork laid out by those that came before the newly elected Georgia Senate members Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.
Overall, this was an incredible experience, and I look forward to better getting to know my local and state government more and more. Representative Riley made an extremely valid point when he said that although state government may not be as sexy as federal, it is what will most impact your day-to-day life. Therefore, it is vital to be involved and know what is happening and may affect you and your community.